By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy BLK Auto

THE QUEENSLAND-BASED Australian distributor for Chinese-made BLK-Bonluck buses has ‘passed over the baton’ to new operators, it’s announced, with BLK factory operations set to commence locally given the current hydrogen and e-mobility push.

BCSA's Rodd Hood and Athol McKinnon (left) are moving on from BCSA, with new company BLK Auto run by Auto's new chairman Peter Aldridge and managing director Jason Pecotic (right) taking over BLK distributor rights locally from 1 February, 2021.

BLK’s announcement it will start operations in Australia and New Zealand in its own right from 1 February, 2021, follows the imminent retirement of Aussie bus industry stalwart Athol McKinnon - one of the principals of current distributor Bus and Coach Sales Australasia (BCSA), which for the past 14 years has marketed its buses under the Bonluck name in both those countries.

The new company called BLK Auto will be headed by Jason Pecotic – also GM of Optare and Higer bus distributor Bus Corp Oceania and CEO of Hyzon fuel-cell bus distributor HDrive. As BLK Auto managing director, Pecotic will be joined by Peter Aldridge as chairman, and they will take over many of the resources of BCSA following McKinnon’s departure and BCSA co-director Rodd Hood’s decision to pursue his used-bus sales business, Rodd Hood’s Bus and Coach Sales, according to BLK Auto.

The launch of BLK as a brand in the Australian market will see the factory operating its own sales, marketing and service operation in partnership with highly experienced Australian management, the entities explain.



The move by BLK to establish its own operation in Australia has been made to enable the company to pivot to an electric and hydrogen fuel-cell bus operation and to give it the resources and backing to put it on a footing for a zero emission future, the company states.

BLK director Ken Lee congratulated BCSA on the work it has done during the past 14 years and paid tribute to the work Hood and McKinnon has did in establishing its products in Australia.

"Under the Bonluck name, BCSA has done a commendable job at pioneering and building sales of BLK product into the Australian and New Zealand bus and coach industry and establishing a strong reputation for reliability, dependability and back-up," said Lee.

"With Athol and Rodd’s decision to retire from the business, we have taken the opportunity to build on their legacy and build the operation in partnership with Australians who are highly experienced in the bus industry," he added.



Aldridge has more than 40 years’ experience as a company director and in senior management roles for both private and public companies, as well as contracting to transport authorities across Australia. He is the current committee chair and been involved with Australian Standards for more than 40 years, BLK Auto states.

"Having known both Athol McKinnon and Rodd Hood for a long time, I have always respected the work that they have achieved with the BLK brand, and moving to a zero-emission technology future the offer to chair the new organisation was not a decision I had to dwell on," said Aldridge.

As managing director of BLK Auto Australia, Pecotic brings more than two decades of experience in the automotive industry, including roles in pioneering other automotive brands in this country.

"I have long respected the BLK brand, and as a result when the opportunity to be a part of the new operation came about I could not pass it up," he said.

"The pivot to zero-emission bus technology is an enormous opportunity and, with the backing of BLK, we will have the resources and expertise to take the brand to a new level in Australia.

"BLK is already a key part of one of Australia’s first hydrogen fuel-cell-powered bus orders, providing President 2 glider chassis for the winning tender with Hyzon Motors for Fortescue’s initial 10-bus order, for its mining operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

"BLK Auto will also be distributing a new range of JAC Battery EV trucks, the first of which are set to arrive in Australia within the next two months to start trials with a number of online home delivery retailers," Pecotic added.

While BLK Auto will continue to be based in Queensland, it is immediately looking to appoint a Victorian sales representative along with a group general manager to oversee the sales and distribution throughout Australia and NZ, the company states.



BLK was first established in 1969 and is part of the CHTC Group, which employs nearly 150,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Beijing, China, it explains.

BLK's large and modern production facilities in Nanchang produces more than 5,000 buses annually, for markets including the USA, Australia and NZ while its bus-manufacturing division is managed by Australian Jason McKinnon, a resident of China for more than a decade.

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